How do we resolve parking and congestion problems in the city centre? By building better alternatives to driving (Update #1)

The worst cities in the world for parking, according to IBM. Image & data courtesy of IBM.

Our original post:

For 5 years and in fact, many more, the members of TRANSIT have been talking about improving public transportation to bring flexibility to our communities.

We recognize the importance of the car, but unlike others, we recognize that our communities do not have to be totally dependent on the car as our only means of getting around.

That is why we at TRANSIT have continuously called for better, more reliable public transport – buses, trains and LRT – to give the public reliable alternatives.

The problem is that the focus of the government and authorities has been on building more LRT or MRT. Yet they forget that a majority of public transport users get to KL via buses – and the fastest, easiest way to get more people to use public transport is to make buses more reliable, faster, and more efficient.

This would encourage the public to use public transport, rather than attempting to drive into the city – creating unnecessary pressure on our roads, an artificial shortage of parking spaces, and a pointless and wasteful use of precious space in our city centre for the storage of cars.

Parking blues in city centre (NST)
24 February 2012
By Bhavani Krishna Iyer

CONVENIENT and affordable parking is welcome in any city and, in this respect, Kuala Lumpur fails us miserably.

There are two issues here, insufficient parking leading to inconvenience of finding parking and the exorbitant parking charges being imposed.

[TRANSIT: No, there are many more issues here. Lack of public transportation, and the entitlement of the driving public, feeling that they should be able to get parking at any time, anywhere, for no cost.]

I read a recent report on the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister, Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, wanting to look at the option of standardising parking rates in the city in response to complaints from the public.

[TRANSIT: Please, no. We do not need the government looking at standardization. We need parking rates that are flexible & smart, to encourage and discourage parking at the appropriate times & places.]

This is going to be a mean task, looking at the space constraint we have, but one would have thought the high parking rate was supposed to be a deterrent for people from driving into the city centre!

I thank my good fortune that I don’t need to drive into the city centre regularly, and those few times when I do drive into it, my chief concern is to get a parking space — a legal one, that is.

Having found the spot, parking fee is the last of my concerns because finding a parking lot is like hitting a jackpot for the day. And we also have the jaga kereta touts in the city centre who would swear on his life that the car is safe at the spot, only for you to later find a long slip of ticket waving at you from between the wipers.

[TRANSIT: Which is why the government and parking operators should be working on creating smarter parking, not more parking.]

Having said that, with close reference to parking facilities, it is also unfair to impose high parking fee as a deterrent for people from driving into the centre when options are limited.

The deterrent can be in force if and when our public transport system gives us reasonable and safer options other than driving.

[TRANSIT: The challenge here is that we need to build better public transport and to make that happen, in some cases we need to move parking spaces and replace them with bus lanes, such as in Brickfields. Unfortunately, there is no support to make the necessary improvements to basic public transport that would make services more reliable and get people to start using public transport – so we are stuck in a “catch-22 situation” (two choices, neither enjoyable).]

Two Fridays ago, I decided to go for a banana leaf meal in Leboh Ampang, and I told myself I would find a parking lot and won’t complain about having to pay for it.

Upon arrival, I circled the entire area three times and not a single space was available. I could have taken the train but my car needed a temporary shelter and finding parking space at the stations would have been a bigger nightmare.

It is perhaps time for us think of smart parking partnerships with the private sector. Would it be feasible if parking facility is made mandatory, to be provided for sufficiently by developers, business operators and the Government?

[TRANSIT: There are already parking & transport standards from the DBKL. Whether they are supported and enforced is another issue. Some in the private sector have invested in smart parking – like the Sunway Corporation – but the next step is to make the data available to the public using ICT.]

Standardising parking rates in the city centre is a welcome move but more importantly, planning must go into creating more parking space first.

[TRANSIT: Wrong on so many counts. We do not need more parking spaces in the city, just as we probably do not need another 1000 buses or 5000 taxis. We need to use our resources more efficiently instead.]

The provision of car parking within the city centre is critical to the economic future of the city. However, the correct balance of parking is essential if the city’s role as a major regional shopping, business and tourist centre is to be built on.

[TRANSIT: Sorry, but the provision of reliable public transport is critical to the economic future of the city. Turning over more valuable space in our city centres to parking, especially low-cost parking (meaning that it would be less economically productive than, say, commercial or residential space) is an unwise move that will have a negative impact on the economic growth of the city. What we need to do is find ways to make public transport more reliable – like implementing a full network of bus lanes to start – because we need to shift future trips onto public transportation.]

Any parking policy must ensure that adequate parking facilities are provided to meet the needs of residents, shoppers and visitors, while at the same time helping to achieve an overall transportation objective of reducing traffic demand on the roads.


TRANSIT Says:

When you are a driver, there seem to be only two important things in life – parking and petrol – that seem to override everything else of importance. And for that reason, something as unwise as cheap parking or cheap petrol becomes somehow economically necessary and critical for the future.

Cars have their benefits but they are not the only way to move around … unless of course you are a driver who’s mind has been taken over by the ‘conveniences’ of driving, parking & petrol.

If our goal is to create a transportation future that works, we have to change our thoughts about driving and parking and public transport. It must be made clear that driving into the city centre is not a right … it is a privilege that the public should be willing to pay for.

If the cost of driving into the city centre, and parking in the city centre is too low, it will create an artificial increase in demand by encouraging more people to drive … which will subsequently create an artificial shortage of road space and parking space.

We actually need parking rates that are higher during the peak daytime hours, to discourage people from staying in parking spaces for too much time. There is actually an efficient matrix that says that a certain percentage of parking spaces (10-15%, more or less) should always be available in order to make the parking process more efficient. Of course, in our life, everything must be 10-15% overcapacity instead.

More importantly, we need to build a reliable network of public transport services, starting with the buses, to make it clear that public transport use is an efficient solution to our congestion problems.

And to make all that happen, we need better public consultation, better and more efficient planning, and we need government and stakeholders to work together, listen to each other, and compromise for the benefit of all.

United front to end traffic woes (NST Streets-Central)
25 February 2012
By VEENA BABULAL
KUALA LUMPUR

RESIDENTS, businessmen and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are adopting a united front in their effort to deal with the worsening traffic conditions in Brickfields.
united

There is a lot of frustration over the worsening traffic conditions in Brickfields. Picture by Afiq Razali, NST.

Area B Rukun Tetangga chairman S.K.K. Naidu said the move, which involved more than 40 NGOs representing Brickfields, was aimed at clearing the air over “who wants what and for what purpose”.

He said the authorities often mistook the requests of certain groups to be that of the entire community.

Naidu said a tabulated list of the views of individuals and groups would be sent to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin soon.

[TRANSIT: Have to wonder if they will ask us what we think.]

The crux of the issue, he said, lay between the requests and opinions of residents’ groups and business stakeholders. He said the Rukun Tetangga, for example, had requested that heavy vehicles be barred from entering Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad which has 14 schools and two disabled organisations — Wisma Harapan and the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB).

However, before and after the contra flow bus lane was introduced on Jalan Tun Sambanthan, the move was objected by the Brickfields Business Council.

There were also differing opinions among stakeholders in the blind community — MAB was happy that buses would no longer ply Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad which was used by many blind pedestrians but the National Council for the Blind objected to the contra flow as they were concerned that the blind could be knocked down in Jalan Tun Sambanthan.

A little over two months after its introduction, the contra-flow bus lane system was scrapped on Feb 6 following complaints and accidents in the road.

Similar conflicting opinions also arose over the redesignation of Jalan Tun Sambanthan and Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad in 2010 and 2011 respectively.


TRANSIT Says:

We are coming ever closer to some improvements in our city. The problem is that there is a consistent lack of will to state priorities when it comes to our roads.

It is interesting that the MRT line has certain, unequivocal features that cannot and will not be up for discussion (according to the approach of the government, MRT Co, and Prasarana). The MRT project must go to MMC-Gamuda, the MRT project must travel under Jalan Sultan, the MRT project must serve the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka erec…er tower, which is a crucial part of the PM’s vision for KL.

But when it comes to street planning and creating urban spaces, and introducing bus lanes, the government is as flexible as can be.

It’s ironic, they are totally firm and inflexible on creating a “backbone” for the rail network but when it comes to creating flexible streets and improving our flexible bus network, they have no backbone!

And we at TRANSIT are left wondering how much more work we will have to do to get the attention of the government and SPAD and get them to build reliable public transport in and around the city.

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9 thoughts on “How do we resolve parking and congestion problems in the city centre? By building better alternatives to driving (Update #1)”

  1. yes, it seems like most drivers think that it is owed to them that parking must be available, possibly at no cost, at the nearest possible point to the eventual destination. Hence we have double parking, triple parking, etc. I our developers with the local council are so car-centric that they must build more parking lots for these drivers, and do not plan for better public transport access or even bicycle lanes.

    You can see in any shoplots in the suburbs that have banks as the tenants, there will be huge jams and double parking. But if you see banks in the city center, they don’t even provide parking in front of its building. Yet, they still have good business. Why can’t the suburbs do it?

    Sometimes, I wish I can take the public transport across towns, but ours is so bad that it will take at least 1-2 hours (on a good day) to get from point A to point B. Driving to shopping mall is a hypertension-al activity. Traffic jams before malls, cannot find parking, exit parking, etc. How I wish I can take a direct bus/train to Sunway Pyramid, Puchong or 1U from Cheras.

    1. @bkharisfq

      And yet the mayor of LA, Antonio Villaraigosa, has made public transport his priority and is expanding MRT (subway) and LRT lines, as well as bus service (including BRT and Metro-Rapid bus services) throughout the city.

      LA is also supportive of the proposed California High-Speed rail line which will connect LA to San Francisco (with connections to San Diego in the south and Sacremento – California’s capital city – in the north).

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  2. Where I work which is in Kerinchi near TM HQ the parking rate is at least RM8 and from my observation people dont mind paying and I feel sorry for them to fork that big amount just to park. Many have less options and just have to pay to get to work. And I have no objections to the idea of improving public transport especially buses, its now or never

  3. it is time for Malaysia to come up with the National parking policy. There is a need to support the transformation of our public transport with taking out some of the parking spaces in urban area as a “stick” to the car drivers and at the same time improve out public transport as the “carrot”. this policy will also need to relate to the rail based mode to create a multilevel parking spaces due to land constraints, related to the benchmarking for parking fare and etc. Just my 2cent

  4. The key answer is still a wholesome and efficient public transport system. Building more parking spaces and roads will encourage more private vehicles. Hopefully the government will sincerely and 100% genuinely improving the public transport system throughout the whole country. Please do not thinking how to save and salvage the survival of our national car manufacturers, automobile industry and companies ONLY. I understand Bank Negara new bank loan policy is causing some difficulties to many Proton and Perodua care dealers, but serves them right!!! Padan muka!!! I’m happy that the car sales is dropping drastically lately.

  5. Kl with a population of 2 million should prioritise 30 cheaper Bus Rapid Transit first. there are many successful e.g e.g the latest being in Xiamen China with a population of more than 3 million!
    Reason for traffic jam is simple too many SOV on the road. people forced to use cars because lack of convenient buses.

    solution is simple
    1. have contra flow on existing road for articulated bus. No need to build so many highways-save the rakyat billion. e.g Taipei
    2. Allow minibus to ply in Taman 2 connecting to main road – give license to individual operator and tax incentives but impose strict conditions.this will create jobs and viability among taman2.
    3. Pencaipaian didahulukan – set up sepcial traffic zone e.g areas acute traffic jam phases by phase. this will allow all concentrated effort to be channelled to one zone and minimise errors. the successful model can then be duplicated to other zones .
    Xiamen BRT, only takes 11 months to complete!

    Why is BN government not opting for cheaper and faster solution?

    Reason is not the BN government do not know the solution, It is because they need MRT as a convenience excuse to siphon out more public money to benefit crony contractors!

    Look at the numerous flyover that has bee nbuilt, have the problem been solved despite billions has been spent? who are those who benefit from it?

    Why is KLMRT not implemented in a hurry without full debates and consultation over TV with the rakyat?
    This are not racial issues but tajuk kebajikan rakyat!

  6. hello admin, what happen? wake up lah. or izit because malaysian public transport system have no problem that makes you have nothing to say? sigh…

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